Thursday, September 27, 2012

Settling for the rules

This is what the game looks like
 We have this game we used to play that we recently unearthed to share with Marc's youngest daughter and her husband.
  It's one of the Catan series, called The Settlers of the Stone Age, that operates much like the other Catan games except for resources you trade bone, meat, flint and hide instead of food, fuel and coal as you set up camp from here to there.
 We remember it as fun and don't know why it got pushed to the back of the closet except that we like a lot of games so we're always trying out something new.
 So it was with a shock that we prepared to play this game last Sunday night and found the rules missing.
Here's the game board
 We had the gameboard and the cards and the little guys with tribal faces but no rules. Marc and I looked at each other wondering if we could guess our way through.

 No way particularly since Marc is a stickler for the rules.
 We decided to try the wonderful resources available on the Internet and see if we could buy, beg or borrow a copy.
 I wrote to Mayfair Games where the Klaus Teuber games are made and sold.
  They very nicely told me the Stone Age game was made in cooperation with another company that hadn't granted them access to the rules PDF file.
These we have
  Really? In today's world of sharing and electronics?
  Marc decided to write to Kosmos in Germany and get the truth out of them.
  Here's their reply: (I'm not sure they can help us.)

Date: 2012/9/26
Subject: Ihre Serviceanfrage wurde von Volkan Tercan zur Bearbeitung unter der Nummer angelegt

Sehr geehrte(r) Marc Haddock ,

vielen Dank für Ihre Mail und Ihr Interesse an den Kosmos
Experimentierkästen und Spielen.

Ihre Anfrage "Settlers of the Stone Age instructions in English" ist bei
uns, unter der im Betreff angegebenen Service-Nummer, eingegangen. Bitte
beziehen Sie sich bei allen weiteren Anfragen auf diese Nummer.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Volkan Tercan

Anybody out there know what they said? We'd love to know.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Grandmas breaking the law

My husband will tell you I have no patience for rules and regulations that make no sense to me.
When I see something I want to do and there's no good reason to hold back from doing it, I'll go under the rope, around the barrier and in through the closed door.
(Now, if there's a train coming, a deep pit to fall into or a hazardous waste sign on the door, I'll behave.)
But on Tuesday, when I was trying to get to my granddaughter's elementary school in time to have lunch with her, I ignored the "No Parking" sign in front of the house that is apparently located too near the school.
Since the school has inadequate parking, I'm sure these people get a lot of cars parked in front of their house.
Poor them.
But this was an emergency and there was little choice in the matter.
I'd received a last-minute call from my son telling me his 6-year-old daughter, Emma, had announced it was Grandparent's Day at school and grandparents were supposed to come for lunch.
He called me at around 10 a.m. and I was supposed to be in Salt Lake to meet Emma at 11:30. I was supposed to bring a sack lunch and be on time.
I hustled to get a couple of errands done and find the address and get there so she wouldn't stress.
(I think there's nothing worse than a late grandma when she's expected.)
I hit the parking lot at 11:29 and joined a circling pack of grandparents trying to find places to park.
The parking area was miniscule and there were a lot of us.
To the north was a tiny faculty parking lot and I would have parked there but there were no spaces available. To the east was another lot with openings but you couldn't get there without crossing the sidewalk. (I considered it and if I'd been in our SUV, I might have gone for it.)
After a couple of drive-arounds, I headed back down the surface streets. There was a space in front of this little house with a big "No Parking between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m." sign and just enough space for my little Mazda.
I parked.
I jogged into the school.
I met Emma and we had a fine lunch. (I also broke the rule about talking while eating. Apparently first-graders are under orders to "Eat and not talk," according to Emma.)
On the way out, I passed other grandparents hustling in and muttering about the parking.
I also found three other cars in the driveway of the house where I'd briefly but illegally parked.
I say "Hurray for them!"
We grandparents know what's at stake here and we won't be denied.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Seeing things clearly

I've suspected for a while now that I would need a new windshield for the car I usually drive.
It had numerous dings and nicks and a spider-like crack coming from the right side across my line of vision.
Even my 7-year-old granddaughter has asked about it.
"How do you see where you're driving?" she wanted to know. "You should get that fixed, gramma."
I know.
I know.
The problem with windshields is that nice, clean new ones attract rocks and foreign objects.
I can drive around with one cluttered with holes that have been fixed by the nice guys at the car wash for years.
But once I have a clear view of the sky I just know it'll be trouble.
However, I also knew it was just a matter of time before it wouldn't pass the safety inspection any more.
(It passed it fine last year and the year before that but I guess this is my lucky year.)
This time, the auto repair guy took my keys and car away and came back about an hour later with a bill and a paper with a big REJECTED printed on it.
I looked at it. Somehow it seemed like overkill.
Couldn't they show some respect and just say — in a regular size font — "We think you need a new windshield, please."
It seems like enough punishment to have to pay a couple of hundred dollars and have to sidle back and forth between the inspection station and the replacement garage.
Why shame me as well?
The guy at the counter sympathized as I looked at the paper.
"You ought to see it on the screen," he said helpfully. "The REJECTED part is in big pink letters."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Setting records

Our swimming partners
We thought it was pretty hot in Disneyland on Friday.
We were going through our bottled water likes fishes and sweltering in the ride lines despite every effort to be dressed light and stand in the shade.
So it was no surprise to find out later that the Los Angeles area set a record for a high temperature of 106 degrees.
Our patience expired. Our air conditioner in the condo died.
(And salespeople outside of Disneyland have told us whatever temperature it is on the outside, it's more than that inside the parks. Something about thousands of people all sweating at once as they pay the extraordinarily high prices for treats, lunch and souvenirs.)
But that wasn't the only record we set on our trip.
We also ruined Captain Tom's spotless record for sightings on Monday.
"I can't believe it, folks. This never happens," he said after we'd spent more than three hours and cruised over 26 miles of ocean looking for dolphins and whales. (We did find some lazy sea lions on the harbor buoy, does that count?)
"But I think we're looking at a "no-sighting sighting" tour here. In the six years I've worked here, this is a first."
We'd signed up for the tour figuring it would be a good way to kill the afternoon and see some of the deep blue sea.
We hadn't really counted on seeing a blue whale but after Captain Tom announced that his friend had called in saying there was a big one a few miles away, we were intrigued.
The captain called for a vote. We could go see the dolphins a few hundred yards out — which were a sure thing — or we could motor on out about another 12 miles and maybe see the blue whale.
The rest of the tour folks voted for the blue whale. Marc and I did not.
So we set out on a voyage that proved fruitless, except for the stupid sea lions.
Captain Tom was embarrassed and apologetic.
He gave us free DVDs of sightings that had been made over the past five years. He gave us brownies and offered half-price return tickets. He said "Sorry" about 30 times.
On Saturday, we went back — partly because we were Disneyed out and mostly because we wanted to see if it would happen again.
This time we saw bottlenose dolphins, brown Risso dolphins and common dolphins with little baby dolphins swimming alongside.
No blue whales but it was still glorious. They swam. They flipped. They turned over and laughed at us.
It was great.
I just hope Captain Tom learned his lesson: a dolphin in hand is worth 10 blue whales in the sea.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It bugs me

I think the hostess at Harpoon Harry's thought it would soften the blow if she was straight up about their termite problem.
"Do you want a table with a view of the harbor or a booth in the back?" she asked as we came in the door.
"The tables in front have a few termites that have come out because of the heat," she said. "There's not so many in the back."
Apparently because the buildings are ancient and next to the beach, the stores in the Dana Point Harbor all have this problem.
The hostess didn't seem very concerned but she waited for us to decide.
"Uh, a table with a view I guess," I said but inwardly I cringed.
I really hate bugs and I really hate eating with some.
But I didn't really know much about termites, what they looked like or how big they were. And it seemed to me that if there were termites in the front, there would be termites in the back.
I kinda figured if the restaurant wasn't majorly worried about the situation, I shouldn't be.
Once we were seated and starting to look over the menus, I noticed some fluttering in the window easements.
I thought perhaps it was a fly but then there were more flutterings.
I counted three termites which actually look a lot like the little moths that hatch in old grain and such with wings and shiny tiny heads.
Creepy Crawlies
It bothered me to have them at the dinner table with me but Marc said they were harmless right up until one landed in his meal.
That made it a little less acceptable.
I finished my fish. He finished his halibut and we skedaddled but not before we overheard the waiter explaining the termites to an unhappy couple in the nearby table.
"Yeah, we are having a problem," he said. "It's because the wood is so old. We try to get rid of them but they always come back."
I think razing might be a good solution.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gone to meet my Mater

Hey, burglars, blog fans and thieves...we're going to be gone for a while to California.
We have an opportunity to hang out on the beach, see some whales and play at the new Cars Land in Disneyland.
When we get back, I'll blog all about it.
But for now, enjoy browsing past blogs or just wait patiently.
It'll be about a week then...
I'll be baaack...
(The key's under the flower pot.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Posting for pennies

I'm not sure if I've done the right thing but something kept me from accepting the latest, high-paying job offer to come my way.
I responded to a friend's Facebook plea for freelance writers and shortly thereafter, this guy called me up and offered me $100 a month if I'd post a bunch of Facebook entries and a couple of blog pieces each month on a couple of different subjects.
I could have my choice of several businesses who want their products talked about.
He said 16 Facebook posts and 2 blogs a month per product area would do it.
He reasoned that it would take me about six hours per subject, simply do a little research and then a little writing and link to a story or two about the particular interest.
No sweat, he said.
I started to sweat.
I already have a fairly hefty workload with what I'm doing for much better pay.
I didn't know if I wanted to spend more of my time gazing into cyberspace. (I have my grandkids to think about here! I have to have time to play Barbies and do princess puzzles.)
And what about my integrity?
Did I want to become a hawker for products I don't necessarily believe in?
I'm already fairly annoyed with all the advertising creeping into Facebook. I don't want to play games or find little treasures. I just want to see what my friends and family members are doing.
So if I were to add to the material overload, wouldn't that be wrong?
I shared my concerns with Marc who started to shake his head.
That made me mad right away because I knew he was right.
I couldn't do this and feel good about it.
I'd have to pass but it was pin money in my pocket.
Oh well, easy come, easy go.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Double trouble

Mutt and Jeff (No, it's Brock and Isaac)
When Marc and I went to visit his daughter Erin and her children this past weekend, we noticed she looked just a touch less merry than in visits before.
She's a hard-working mom with 2-year-old twin boys and a precocious little girl just turning 7.
(That was the main reason for the visit, to bring Ellie her birthday present.)
She'd had a hard few weeks with her husband working later than usual most nights and gone most of the recent weekends for church activities. She was worn down.
Erin mentioned that Brian was currently on the Snake River with the ward Young Women, something he loves to do — something Erin loves too but can't do as much with her young brood.
She said Brian was taking Ellie on the river on Labor Day but she couldn't go because someone had to stay with the boys and she couldn't think of anyone crazy enough to do that.
Grandpa, what's to worry?
Marc and I looked at each other. We weren't doing anything spectacular on Labor Day and we were always looking for ways to connect better with the grandkids who aren't as close as the ones in Utah County.
We offered to take them.
Erin was amazed and somewhat shocked.
She said she'd talk it over with Brian and pretty soon a plan was hatched.
They would bring us the boys Sunday afternoon, stay for dinner and leave just after bedtime.
Monday we would meet halfway at Marc's eldest daughter's home in Weber County to hand them off.
So we spent a fairly busy day yesterday with the little lads doing all sorts of things.
We journeyed up to the Alpine Splash Pad to stand in the puddles and chase balls into the water.
We carefully fed the horse across the road some carrots without fingers for dessert.
They drove all around the neighborhood in the little car with Brock or Isaac pushing down on the gas and Marc steering from the side. (His back kinda hurts now.)
We hauled them around in the wagon and then they hauled each other around. (Brock had a much harder time pulling Isaac than Isaac did Brock as Brock is about 10 pounds lighter than his brother.)
Isaac and the H20
We made meals and took baths and got them to bed (after about 15 tries ending with a fierce-faced grandma chasing them down the hall "for the last time, guys!")
Brock is unfazed
We refereed sword fights and sand battles. We prevented bloodshed and mayhem.
We kept the food off the floor, the sand out of the face for the most part and the valuables way up high.
The worst that happened were a couple of water and juice spills, one as we were heading up to Weber after Brock was "done" and we didn't get the bottle from him quickly enough.

Man, this is hard. Brock pulling Isaac

We learned to be quick about what we did and to stay alert. We never assumed quiet was good.
It was the best of times...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Boom, boom, boom, boom.

Bill Harley
There are six of us in the family circle going around singing "Boom, boom, boom, boom!" in the fashion that lends itself to the Bill Harley round.
It's in our heads and it won't leave.
Since Harley involved us in the audience at the Favorite Stories Night at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival Friday in his tale about Bear's party, we've been hooked.
Dovie Thomason
He engaged us, we grandparents and four grandchildren from ages 7-13, sitting at the SCERA in the night air listening to this story about a fictitious bear.
We were all laughing and swaying and singing as we watched this guy with a rubber face become a wolf, a fox daddy trying to get his cubs to bed, a porcupine and a bear throwing a party to which nobody came.
It was a hilarious story and completely silly.
We walked away at the end saying "How can a simple story be so all-involving? Why do I ever do anything else but attend storytelling festivals?"
I don't know.
There's a magic in stories and in the telling.

Donald Davis
We go every chance we get, to hear Donald Davis tells his stories of growing up as a child in the Appalachian Mountains, to hear Dovie Thomason tell about the difference between men and women, strangely the same differences though she's a Native American and we're not. We listen to veteran storytellers and children just learning the skill.
We own several CDs of our favorites and the grandkids beg for them when we go anywhere.
The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival is one of the best and it's right here in our backyard.
It's still going on today and tonight...check out for ticket information and the schedule.